Easy techniques for using spices

Using Spices

Once a precious commodity, today there are a wide variety of spices available worldwide. Cooking with spices is easy and there are a variety of interesting techniques.

Spices add dimension and flavor to meals and beverages.

There are many methods for adding spices to enhance flavor.

  • Consider grinding your favorite spices for added freshness and more intense flavor.
  • Toast whole spices if desired in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant and several shades darker.
  • You can also toast spices in the microwave by spreading out the spices on a plate and heating uncovered for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
  • Quickly dry fresh herbs by placing between paper towels and microwaving for a few minutes. Use within one year.
  • Pickling Spices is a process of preserving food with a variety of spices.
  • Spice Rubs are ideal for applying to meats prior to roasting to add flavor.
  • Mulling Spices added to hot beverages create a perfect drink to warm you up on a chilly day. Mulled wine or cider infusing various spices and fruit essences is an ideal choice for a party or holiday gathering. Recipes for mulling spices vary but sometimes include allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and different types of dried fruit peels.
Mulled Wine Recipe Using Spices is available here.

Quick Tip for Making Use of Old Spices: If you have old spices that still have a scent, a great way to make use of them is to add them to boiling water on the stove or heat in a cup of water in the microwave. This will add the pleasant scent of spices to your kitchen - which is especially nice for the holidays. Rosemary is one of my favorites.

Fast Fact: To get the most out of your spices, grind your own or buy spices that come in grinders since whole spices usually last longer. It is also customary in many parts of the world to toast spices before grinding them for the best flavor.

Today, many spices are sold as grinders or you can also use a small coffee grinder (Of course, don't use for coffee later unless you want the lingering taste of your favorite spice in your coffee.) You can also get a specific spice grinder.

Note: One way to remove the lingering flavor in a grinder is to grind sugar to clear out other flavors or scents.

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